Chris Strengthens to a Hurricane Southeast of Cape Hatteras

Former Tropical Storm Chris strengthened to a hurricane southeast of Cape Hatteras on Tuesday.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Hurricane Chris was located at latitude 33.7°N and longitude 72.4°W which put it about 205 miles (330 km) east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.  Chris was moving toward the northeast at 10 m.p.h. (16 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 85 m.p.h. (135 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 100 m.p.h. (160 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 980 mb.

Hurricane Chris strengthened on Tuesday when it moved northeast of cooler water Chris had mixed to the surface while it was meandering off the coast of the Carolinas.  An eye with a diameter of 30 miles (50 km) formed at the center of circulation.  A ring of strong thunderstorms surrounded the eye and the strongest winds were occurring in the eastern side of that ring of storms.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of Hurricane Chris.  The strongest rainbands were in the eastern half of the circulation.  Drier air near the western half of the circulation was contributing to the weaker bands in that part of the hurricane.  Storms in the core of the circulation were generating upper level divergence which was pumping mass away to the north and east of the hurricane.  Winds to hurricane force extended out about 20 miles (30 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 95 miles (155 km) from the center.

Hurricane Chris will move through an environment favorable for intensification on Wednesday.  Chris will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 28°C.  An upper level trough over the northeastern U.S. will produce southwesterly winds that will blow toward the top of the hurricane.  The winds speeds are similar at most levels and they will not generate a lot of vertical wind shear during the next 24 hours.  Hurricane Chris will strengthen on Wednesday and it could intensify rapidly.  Chris will move over cooler water when it gets north of the Gulf Stream and it will start to weaken when that occurs.

The trough over the northeastern U.S. will steer Hurricane Chris toward the northeast.  On its anticipated track Chris will move away from the coast of North Carolina.  Chris could be south of Nova Scotia in about 36 hours and it could be near Newfoundland in several days.

Elsewhere, the remnants of former Tropical Storm Beryl crossed Hispaniola and they were moving toward the southeastern Bahamas.  At 2:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Former Tropical Storm Chris was located at latitude 20.1°N and longitude 72.6°W which put it about 40 miles (65 km) northeast of Port de Paix, Haiti.  It was moving toward the northwest at 17 m.p.h. (28 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 35 m.p.h. (55 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1013 mb.  A reconnaissance aircraft is scheduled to investigate the system on Wednesday if there are signs that it could be reorganizing into a tropical cyclone.

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